As we head into the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, we have much to celebrate at Jacob’s Well. Doors continue to open for us to reach more families and communities in the drought-stricken regions of Brazil. In a recent interview with Renato, I asked him to share about the new developments beyond our pilot project.
Tell us about the opportunities opening up in Morada Nova.
Morada Nova is a collection of about 5 communities south of Fortaleza in the drought region. These communities have been given many promises for economic development from the government over the years, but many of these promises have gone unfulfilled for a variety of reasons. Both local and national government agencies have opened their arms to having Jacob’s Well partner with them to bring these promises to life!
Specifically, what are the economic opportunities that are in development?
We want to pilot goat milk production in one community. This community already has a working desalinizer (reverse osmosis system), so we want to use the brine (which is the salty byproduct from the desalination process) to help grow saltgrass – a high-protein bush that can be made into goat feed. In addition, we will use the brine in a shrimp pond to grow shrimp for sale. Both goat milk and shrimp are high-demand products.
Finally, we plan to expand the existing drip system to grow Acerola (a Brazilian cherry) and other fruit. And we plan to install 5 hydroponics units to grow cilantro based on what we learned from our pilot project in Riacho da Porta.
You mentioned that this will all start in one community. How will the other communities get involved?
The idea is that we will breed the goats and fish and transplant the healthiest plants to the other communities. That way we can multiply our efforts efficiently to the other communities and train them on what has worked best. And we also want to send some of the animals and plants to Riacho da Porta so they can benefit from the new economic opportunities.
When will all this begin?
A couple of factors will influence when we can get started. First, Jacob’s Well is committed to only starting what we can sustain over the long haul. In order to adequately support these new efforts we need to expand the Jacob’s Well team in Brazil, requiring additional financial support and commitment of human resources. While I am a hard worker, I would need to clone myself in order to keep all of the existing and new projects going! Second, our work is founded upon our relationships with the communities themselves as well as the local, state, and federal agencies with whom we are partnering. While everyone is eager to get started, we recognize that aligning and coordinating our combined efforts takes time and thoughtful engagement. We hope to begin soon and will certainly keep everyone posted on our progress!